Wednesday, February 9, 2011

National Western Stock Show, January 2011

My apologies for so few posts recently, have been debating keeping this motorcycle only or branching out a bit...

Well, without a running bike, a motorcycle blog is pretty boring!

Stay tuned for several updates from the life of Smash and Karla....

I love attending the National Western Stock Show, 
it's one of the things that keeps Denver connected to its roots. 
Brings out a culture that I really enjoy being a part of! 
While I must admit rodeo is not my thing, there are lots of other things to see and do. 
Took Karla again this year (January), it's something I buy tickets for months in advance.

This year we went to the Gambler's Choice Open Jumper Stake, 
which I have been to the last several years. 
Unfortunately, numb nuts here forgot his camera... I know, utter fail for the blog. 
Well, it's basically the Grand Prix folks having a great time at a slightly lower jump height, 
it's very entertaining!

So, on to the next evening... 
We picked up my sister Allison and went to "An Evening of Dancing Horses" 
which was accompanied by the Denver Brass. 
We had never been to this event, but I got a good deal on tickets and it looked like fun. 
It was very entertaining, although definitely aimed more at folks who don't know horses. 
We had a fantastic time, but I do not think we will pay to see this again. 
I remembered the camera this time! Or, more likely, Karla reminded me....

First stop was critical...

Andalusians were a favorite breed this evening, being athletic, easy to train and very showy:

The Denver Bronco's mascot "Thunder" usually makes atleast one appearance at the Stock Show, this year was no exception. 
Also, some reiners showing off their sport.

Nice group of Freshians as well. Man that's a lot of reins to deal with! 
These guys and their trainer are from the Kentucky Horse Park, 
less than 2 hours from where my dad grew up! 
I remember him taking me there when I was a kid. Talk about jaw on the ground... 
It's on my list to take Karla there someday. Beautiful country.

This guy and his horses were the absolute highlight! 
Yes, utterly childish but we could help laughing so hard we cried!! 
Talk about some serious training...

Some roping action....

A show on Natural Horsemanship

These kids were totally awesome! 
They were not as spit polished and professional as the other acts, but man the grins on their faces! 
They were probably all between 12 and 15 years old, totally rocking the chariots, costumes and miniature ponies! 
Very entertaining, great to see all these kids so involved. 
And holy crap those ponies were athletic, 
they did quite the drill team session, much of it at a full run! 
I wish I had gotten video, I think I was too busy watching, just have on blurry photo! (whoops)

It was a great night! 
I always enjoy spending time with Alli, 
the fact that she and Karla get along so well is icing on the cake!

We hadn't planned on going another evening, 
but then a great deal on tickets popped up on Living Social, with choices for multiple nights. 
Hmm.... Which one... How about:

"Draft Horse and Mule Performance Classes Featuring Feed Team Race Finals, 
Classic Series Final 6 Horse Hitch, Light Weight Pull."

Sure! I know very very little about drafts and NOTHING about mules, so figured this would be fun. 
6 horse hitch? That's a lot of horses. Man, we had no idea what we were in for!

First up were these races where a team pulls a sled with hay bales, 
which have to be picked up and put back down by a second man. 
The horses/mules are not allowed to lope (canter) and must stay in a trot. 
This was loads of fun and a very relaxed atmosphere. 
I'm so glad we happened upon the tickets!

The guy in the overalls delivers hay for Murdoch's (where Karla and our friend John work)! 
He also runs a wagon ride in Castle Rock during the holiday star lighting ceremony. 
It was really neat to see him competing! Unfortunately I've completely blanked his name...

I could help but think to myself, "YA MULE!" Seriously, it took a lot to not yell it! ROFLMAO

The hay delivery guy is in this video with his team!

Next up, mule barrel racing. Yes, you heard me right. Mule barrel racing. 
I wish I could better communicate what I was thinking here... 
WTF just doesn't begin to cut it!!

Well, fresh beers in hand we settled down for this spectacle... 
Couldn't be happier that Coors supports the stock show!

Once again, it was all I could do to not yell, "YA MULE!!" LOL!! 
Yeah we were pretty much in tears laughing. 
I am sure these are very serious competitors and train really hard, I mean no disrespect, 
but holy shit this was funny!

What proved to be the highlight of the evening was next...

6 horse hitch! Crap the ground thundered when these guys came in... 
There wasn't a mark of dirt or dust anywhere, 
every bit of chrome was spit polished and every detail attended to. 
It was clear these horses had been heavily blanketed and kept inside since fall, 
they still had their gleaming summer coats! 
I cannot imagine the prep work here...

I really don't like that they tie up the horses heads... 
But with this light load (they probably don't even feel it) 
I can't imagine it causes them much discomfort.

The action on these monstrous, powerful horses was so beautiful it about brought tears to my eyes.
I know, you guys think I'm probably completely nuts, but before I knew motorcycles I knew horses...

Watch the videos, this is just amazing. 
Did I mention how happy we were that we just randomly snagged these tickets!?!

I unfortunately didn't get a picture of my favorite team... You will see them in this first video. 
All Percherons, a flea-bitten pair in front all the way back to an almost black pair running the wheels, pulling a light brown wagon. 
If you count at the beginning, they are the fourth team to pull out of the gate. 
The action on these Percherons was unparalleled....

More! They had way too many teams to show all at once, so they did it in waves. 
The Clydsedales, while not able to compete with the same high stepping action as the Percherons and Belgians, 
were beautiful with their heavy feathering, huge stature and incredible color! 
Yeah, I was completely ga-ga over the entire thing...

At the end they brought in all the competitors... 
That's a LOT of huge horses standing still in one place! 
Yikes. Thankfully, no incidents, 
although you could tell these guys were really hyped up and ready to show.

Final event of the evening (yes there was more! this was awesome) was the "Light Weight Pull." 
I had NO idea what this was going into it.

Well, these guys come out pulling... what is that... Holy cow that's a lot of weight...Feed bags?

This was like a truck pull, but for horses! Sweet. 
Evidently the "light weight" title didn't have anything to do with the weights they would be attempting, but the regulation of the weight of the team. 
If I remember right, including shoes each team couldn't weigh more than 3200 pounds. 
The "heavy weight" pull is for the teams above 3200 pounds. 
Ok neat! Now I'm starting to understand. The announcers were really helpful.

Right away you know these horses work for a living. 
Unlike the horses in the 6 hitch show, these guys had their full winter coats and shaved manes. 
The 6 horse hitch teams were blanketed to keep their coats looking good, 
these guys were obviously right off the farm. Hats off to them!

First they started with a basic warmup with a lightly laden sled,
just adding a little bit of weight to get the blood pumping. 

Do you see that bar right behind each horse? 
Well, the driver can adjust the length of the chains to that pole for each horse, 
which adjusts the percentage of the load each horse pulls. That's cool.
Once again, thanks announcers!

Loading more weight...

Then they racked up the weight... Holy crap... 
All but three teams couldn't complete a full pull of 1,000 pounds even with three attempts allowed... 
Then it gets even more amazing... Get your popcorn out! These horses are stellar athletes!

That was the end of our evening, and the end of our Stock Show!
What a great time. I am so glad we went. 
Next year I think we'll watch the Grand Prix 
(higher jumps and a bit more intense competition than the Gambler's Choice), 
maybe some reining and hopefully some more of the draft horse stuff. 
I can find good deals on tickets, but the real bugger is PARKING. 
$10 per visit and that's the "cheap" lot! 
Sheesh. Unfortunately no good way to get there by bus from our house either. 
I will have to think on this....

Hope everyone enjoyed this! More updates to come later, but that's all for the stock show!

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